The 42-contestant herd on ‘American Idol‘ is being thinned out to 24: 12 girls, 12 guys. The final 24 will perform for the first time at the live shows next week. Can you believe we are already at the live shows, ‘Idol’ watchers?

We’re one step closer to crowning Scotty McCreery‘s heir apparent. But no clear front-runner has emerged yet. That should change next week when the contestants show us what they are made of.

When choosing the Top 24, the discerning judges have to take each contestant’s entire journey into account and when revealing each person’s fate, they really made ‘em sweat. Talk about pregnant pauses and exaggerated drama.

Now without further anticipation, here are 14 of Season 11′s Top 24, including Creighton Fraker, Erika Van Pelt and Reed Grimm. We find out the rest tomorrow (Feb. 23.) Adam Brock‘s fate was cliffhangered, cruelly so, since he was in tears. Self-styled as ‘White Chocolate,’ he gave a clumsy perf for the judges. He does this for his daughter, and because “I have to sing. It’s where my joy comes from and how I know God blessed me.” We’re guessing he is a Top 24′er.

The Top 24 (So Far):


Jen Hirsh: Randy Jackson said she is one of the best singers this year. So of course, after a dramatic pause, he revealed she made the cut. [Watch Here]

Haley Johnsen: We’ll be seeing her on live TV next week. [Watch Here]

Elise Testone: We haven’t seen too much of her through the early rounds, but we will be seeing much more as of next week. She is loaded with soul, singing ‘It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.’ [Watch Here]

Erika Van Pelt: The judges had their eyes on her for “that voice,” even though she stumbled for her final perf of Adele’s ‘Don’t You Remember,’ which J. Lo didn’t like. [Watch Here]

Chelsea Sorrell: The country girl could be this season’s Lauren Alaina.

Baylie Brown: She tried out five years ago and took the time to grow up. Smart move, since she made it. [Watch Here]

Jessica Sanchez: Soulful last week, subdued but powerful this week was enough to earn the teen a pass.

Brielle von Hugel: The singer with the visible stage mom sang ‘Killing Me Softly.’ When she sings, that New Yawk accent falls by the wayside. [Watch Here]

Creighton Fraker: He reveals he was adopted and grew up a preacher’s kid singing church music. The rock ‘n’ roll part of his personality has to do with his DNA, since his real father is in the heavy metal band Flotsam & Jetsam. He sang ‘New York State of Mind’ for the judges and he is a member of the Top 24. [Watch Here]

Joshua Ledet: He has a “show off” voice that’s never annoying, and he really showed off with an “Amen” when he found out he is moving on. [Watch Here]

Reed Grimm: The outlook is Grimm. He drummed his way through ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing (If You Ain’t Got That Swing.)’ He scats well but the judges want more of his actual singing voice. [Watch Here]

Heejun Han: The judge’s fave sang ‘New York State of Mind’ in a buttery tone. It worked for Creighton and worked for Heejun. Steven Tyler said he is a better star than a singer. Sometimes that’s enough. [Watch Here]

Phillip Phillips: He sang the sexed up ‘Nice and Slow’ by Usher, taking an R&B song and making it his own. [Watch Here]

Colton Dixon: With his sister ousted, he dedicated Coldplay‘s ‘Fix You’ to her while playing piano and falsettoing it up. His graduation to the live shows is the definition of bittersweet. [Watch Here]

Those Who Did Not Make It:

Lauren Gray: She sang ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ for her final perf for the judges, but her lack of strength during Hollywood Week meant that 2012 is not the year for her. The judges did ask her to come back next year. But she was non-committal.

Naomi Gillies: She was crushed and shocked that she didn’t make it to the Top 24.

Neco Starr: Starr power aside, he sang ‘The Lady in My Life’ for his final performance before the judges in his silky smooth style. But he didn’t make it. He needs more time to develop.

Clayton Farhat: He’s out.

River St. James: He also got his walking papers.

Caleb Johnson: He could not get it together or remember lyrics during his final perf so he hammered the final nail in his own coffin.

Richie Law: This confident cowboy sang a deep version of ‘Ring of Fire’ by Johnny Cash but Scotty McCreery, V. 2.0 he’s not.

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